Newts are fascinating creatures that thrive in aquatic and terrestrial environments. These tiny amphibians might look cute and innocent, but they have deadly defense mechanisms to deter predators.
Due to their small size and delicate nature, newts are an easy snack for predators such as birds, snakes, fish, and foxes. As such, staying alive is a heavy duty for newts, mainly because they live in environments that are favorable for their predators.
In this post, we’ll take a closer look at newts’ predators, from fish and birds to invertebrates and reptiles. So let’s dive in!
Newts are amphibians, meaning they can survive on both water and land. Most newts stay in water during breeding seasons, and after they lay their eggs, they spend most of their time on land.
Some newts are active during the day, while others are nocturnal. They spend most of their time hunting for food or in cool shady areas near water bodies.
The unique life cycle of newts makes them vulnerable targets for many predators. However, despite their tiny size, they have extraordinary adaptation and survival abilities.
For example, they have the ability to regrow lost body parts such as limbs, tails, and even their hearts. This fascinating regeneration ability helps them survive predator attacks and recover from injuries.
Furthermore, some newts exhibit aposematism, which involves conspicuous coloration of their skin that signals their toxicity. These signals help newts deter predators away from trying to eat them. But what predators attempt to eat such toxic creatures?
Newts, alongside most amphibians, face various predators in their natural habitats. These predators vary depending on the newt’s life stage, location, species, size, and other factors.
Here are the most common newts predators:
Newts are on the menu of many bird species, such as buzzards, fish eagles, storks, kestrels, bitterns, and herons. These birds usually patrol the areas surrounding ponds, streams, and lakes where newts live, scanning the water for any signs of movement.
Once the birds spot newts, they fly down and snatch them with their sharp beaks. That’s why newts often hide under rocks and creaks and only venture out at night to keep themselves safe from bird attacks.
Aquatic newts and salamanders are easy targets for some fish species, such as trouts and bass.
However, not all newt species are favorable for fish since some newts are toxic. When given the opportunity, fish will feed on young and non-toxic newts.
The relationship between snakes and newts has always been fascinating for scientists. Snakes, especially the garter snake, feed on newts and other amphibians.
However, some newts are extremely toxic, so not all snakes can consume them and survive. Toxic newts produce toxins enough to kill 12 adult humans, but the garter snake is something else.
Some garter snakes have developed resistance against the deadly newt toxin so they can eat newts and survive.
Snakes, fish, and birds remain the primary threat to newts. However, other creatures can occasionally feed on newts when they can. These animals include foxes, mice, and frogs.
When you first look at newts, you see them as soft, slow-moving, and defenseless amphibians.
But don’t let their tiny size and cute appearance fool you; newts have developed ingenious ways to keep themselves safe from becoming someone’s dinner.
The first defense line for newts is camouflage, which allows them to hide in plain sight. Most newts have various colors and patterns on their bodies that enable them to blend with their surroundings. This makes it difficult for predators to spot them throughout the day.
Like many other amphibians, newts have permeable skin that helps them retain water and avoid diseases. Additionally, newts secrete potent toxins through their skin when in danger. They also release toxins from their parotoid and granular glands. These toxins make newts taste horrible and toxic to predators.
When a predator approaches a newt on land, the newt will most likely position itself so that its most toxic body part is near the predator.
Such defensive posture allows newts to secrete even more toxins through their skin to keep the predators away.
Scientists have discovered over 200 toxins in amphibians. Tetrodotoxin is found in many new species, such as the rough-skinned newt (Taricha granulosa), and it’s one of the most deadly toxins out there. These newts are so toxic that only one can kill over 100 humans.
Autotomy is a fascinating defense mechanism by newts and other amphibians that involves voluntary tail-dropping.
In other words, when a newt gets caught by a predator, it can release its tail to escape. The tail continues to wiggle randomly for several minutes, distracting the predator.
These tiny creatures are survival experts, from their toxic skin secretions to dropping their tails. Some newt species manage to stay safe from predators much larger and stronger than them.
In this video from Nat Geo Wild, we see a rough-skinned newt hunted by a garter snake. As the garter snake gets near the newt, the newt arches its back, displaying its orange belly.
This is an alarming sign from the newt to deter the snake away. Even though many garter snakes are resistant to the toxins secreted by newts, the snake decides not to risk it and goes away.
The newt moves back to its water stream, only to encounter another predator, a large bullfrog. The bullfrog unhesitatingly swallows the newt. Inside the bullfrog’s body, the newt secretes its deadliest toxins to survive.
As a result, the bullfrog dies before being able to digest the newt. The rough-skinned newt eventually rolls out of the frog’s mouth and returns to the water.
Newts are small, delicate, and attractive amphibians living in various aquatic and terrestrial environments. They’re a target for many predators, such as birds, foxes, snakes, frogs, fish, and other mammals.
Despite their cute appearance and delicate nature, newts have developed interesting and deadly defense mechanisms to survive in the wild such as camouflage, autotomy, and fatal skin secretions.
I have a bachelor’s degree in construction engineering. When I’m not constructing or remodeling X-Ray Rooms, Cardiovascular Labs, and Pharmacies, I’m at home with my wife, two daughters and a dog. Outside of family, I love grilling and barbequing on my Big Green Egg and working on projects around the house. Growing up, I had pet dogs, cats, deer, sugar gliders, chinchillas, a bird, chickens, fish, and a goat.